The countdown for the top 100 players in college basketball for the 2017-2018 season has begun. These rankings are based on talent and anticipated production. With every significant recruit or transfer finding a home, there is enough information to talk about the top players for the upcoming season.
100. Killian Tillie (Gonzaga, Sophomore Forward)
Tille was the most unheralded part of arguably the best frontcourt in the country last year. With Zach Collins leaving, the Frenchman has next in the long line of talented Gonzaga posts. His per game numbers (4.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg) didn’t tell the whole story. If you extrapolate his numbers out per 40 minutes, Tillie would have had 13.7 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 2.4 steals a game. Going into his sophomore year following an NCAA runner-up campaign, the active floor-spacing big will have a chance to make a huge impact in the WCC and on the national scene.
99. Brian Bowen (Louisville, Freshman Forward)
After a long, anticipated wait, Bowen finally committed to Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals. He’ll be a fan favorite and a road villian with his loud haircut and fearless confidence. But he will produce, even as a freshman, with his scoring prowess. Bowen is one of the more gifted offensive players in his class, able to create his shot and expose mismatches. A crowded Louisville frontcourt could limit his touches early, but he should be one of the top three scoring options on a top 10 team.
98. Egor Koulechov (Florida, Senior Forward)
Florida keeps finding a way to reel in upper echelon transfers like Koulechov. At only about 6’5, Koulechov isn’t the lengthiest of forwards. But he plays with a toughness that is necessary to succeed in the SEC. If averaging 18.1 points at Rice isn’t enough to excite Gator fans, Koulechov also pulled in 8.9 rebounds while shooting a blistering 47% from three. That’s a lot to look forward to in Gainesville.
97. Nana Foulland (Bucknell, Senior Center)
Foulland accomplished a rare feat when he won Patriot League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. He was a real anchor on the defensive end, reacting quickly on the help side and swatting away 2.1 shots a game. It’s always been about defense for Foulland, which is why his offensive development (15.0 ppg) elevated him into one of the best two-way centers in America.
96. John Konchar (Fort Wayne, Junior Guard)
If there is a mid-major player that is consistently overlooked, it’s Fort Wayne’s versatile guard. Konchar wastes no movement on either end, leading to 14.9 ppg, 3.8 apg, 1.7 spg, and an impressive 8.7 rpg at only 6’5. There are players that do it all and there are players that do it all well; Konchar is the latter. With even more scoring responsibility this year, it’d be tough to see him improve on his field goal shooting of 63%, but then again consistency has become his standard.
95. DeSean Murray (Auburn, Junior Forward)
A junkyard dog is the best way to describe Murray, who will play in his first season at Auburn after averaging 20.2 points two years ago at Presbyterian. He will be a force attacking the basket, dragging bodies with him, and finishing at the rim. Bruce Pearl is going to benefit from adding an experienced offensive weapon to his talented young group.
94. Kris Wilkes (UCLA, Freshman Forward)
Wilkes has the look of an NBA wing player. Long, lean, and supremely athletic, capable of disrupting the game on both ends. A strong summer in the weightroom will put him in position to thrive in his slashing role. Playing alongside score-first guards, Wilkes may have less scoring opportunities to show his full repertoire. Even so, he is too talented to not make a big impact as a freshman.
93. Shamorie Ponds (St. John’s, Sophomore Guard)
When your team only wins 14 games, sometimes it’s hard to grab national attention. Ponds has me watching, after a freshman year where his explosive scoring was on display. The sophomore out of Brooklyn scored over 17 points a game while shooting nearly 38 percent on a high volume of threes. With backcourt mate Marcus LoVett back, Ponds could have a shot at being heard outside of New York.
92. Zach Smith (Texas Tech, Senior Forward)
Smith is just a bundle of potential. A lot of his thunderous dunks end up on SportsCenter, though it’s his defensive versatility that is most admirable. Smith affects whatever frontcourt player he’s asked to guard with his length and quickness uncommon for a power forward. Over the years, his jump shot has improved to the point where he shot a tick under 40 percent from three last year. I’m expecting another big growth from his 12.1 point, 7.2 rebound average from a year ago.
91. Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova, Sophomore Guard)
The player that will benefit most from Josh Hart’s departure is DiVincenzo. With decent time, he averaged 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game. But that was as a third or fourth option. Now DiVincenzo, who is an elite shooter and athlete, will be unleashed to score as frequently as his playing style suggests he should. It’s hard to imagine how much better he will get over three years with his toughness and physical gifts.